My twitter timeline is on fire with news that the House Appropriations Committee in the US just released its fiscal year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which will be voted on by the subcommittee tomorrow (July 7). This bill funds the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies. It also proposes to pull the plug on JWST.
To the best of my knowledge, despite lots of rumours flying around, there never was any serious discussion over cancelling JWST. It was a scenario that had to be considered given the criticism over bad management and cost overruns – but as far as I was aware, this was an academic exercise. The Decadal Survey and every other similar roadmap placed the highest priority on JWST, and everyone, scientists as well as politicians, work under the assumption that JWST will fly.
So…. I don’t really have anything to say on this. I’m writing this to ask for information. Who knows more? Is this some political hard-balling hoop-jumpery?
An email from our European PI for MIRI gave little extra factual information over what’s being talked and written online, but urged us to support our US colleagues who will have to mobilize and fight to keep JWST alive. Also something about the “international collaboration” card ESA will “almost certainly” play if and when it’s called for. Meanwhile within the project it’s business as usual. Remember we’re in the middle of our final all-important flight test campaign at the Rutherford Labs In Didcot before we deliver MIRI to NASA later this year – lovely data are pouring in, lots to do.
Links (no longer a complete list but I’ll try to post anything official or particularly interesting or relevant):
Official reaction from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) – very strong words of support for the mission
NY Times piece by Dennis Overbye with reactions from Matt Mountain, Tod Lauer
Nice by Jonathan Amos on the Beeb, words from NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
Well informed piece on Space Policy Online
Risa Wechsler on Cosmic Variance